22Gz has proven time and time again to be one of Brooklyn drill’s biggest trendsetters, and with his new record, “Growth & Development,” he is finally dining on the fruits of his labor.
22Gz started some of the biggest movements within Brooklyn drill, from the usage of the term ‘blixky’ to the famed dance ‘twirling.’ Yet, because of animosity amongst other artists in the region, he has not received the same level of respect and notoriety as some of his peers. With his 2016 track “Suburban,” we saw 22Gz light the spark that set the Brooklyn music scene ablaze with ingenuity and individuality. The video for this record sets the scene for what we have seen pop up all throughout the region and mimics the visibility of harrowing realities that we saw spawn in the 2010’s Chicago drill scene. 22Gz brought his own spin to the already adapted drill genre, adding the Brooklyn flair that has generated the fruitful musical environment this region has developed into. He was one of the first artists in the region to adopt the UK drill sound, linking with super-producer Axl Beats on the aforementioned “Suburban.” This trend of working with UK drill producers would be utilized by the late-great Pop Smoke, Fivio Foreign and countless others. Years later, we are seeing the success of 22Gz finally balance out with the credit he deserves.
“Growth & Development” is quite an appropriate title to this mixtape. 22Gz sounds more confident than ever, skating effortlessly over a batch of reckless, grimy beats from UK producer Ghosty and Serbian producer Yung DZA. What sticks out from 22Gz previous work is the hyper-focus he displays on the 35-minute tape; he doesn’t give the listener a minute to breathe. Every song continues the feeling from the last, building a project that gives a comprehensive snapshot of his life and Brooklyn as a whole. The continuity of the mixtape is one of its strongest qualities, with 22Gz displaying the defining characteristics of Brooklyn drill throughout.
His energy is unquenchable on records like “308,” and the result is a 13-song run of pure adrenaline. This tape is meant to raise your heart rate, and with lines like “I bet them hollow tips turn you into hashtags,” it does exactly that.
The highlight of the tape arrives on the fourth track, “Cash App.” Ghosty produces a beat that embodies the dark and ominous style New York rap was built on, and 22Gz sounds entirely in his own element. Every sentence spit on this song is so visual, the listener can piece the entire song together like a horror film in their head. The visual component of 22Gz lyrics is a staple of his style and something that has attracted listeners to the drill sound. For some, drill is a hyper-realistic representation of their actuality, while for others it’s a cinematic retelling of a lifestyle they will never be adjacent to; in either case, 22Gz’s music satisfies.
22Gz is one of the most talented artists in Brooklyn’s ecology, and it has taken him some time to beat the odds that have held back his success, but those seem minuscule compared to the victories on “Growth & Development.” The future holds a multitude of success for 22Gz if he can keep up this tempo, and when looking at the handful of tracks released on this tape, he obviously can.